Search for Sriwijaya Air Crash Victims Ends, CVR Hunt Continues

 - January 21, 2021, 3:30 PM
Basarnas search and rescue mission commander Brigadier General Mar Rasman briefs reporters at the Jakarta International Container Terminal 2 on the progress of recovery operations tied to the crash of Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182. (Photo: Basarnas)

Thirteen days after the crash of Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182 into the Java Sea, Indonesian dive teams have concluded their search for the 62 victims but the hunt for the crashed airplane’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR) will continue, authorities said Thursday.

While addressing reporters on Thursday, transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said forensic experts had identified 43 victims to date, adding that search and rescue operators have retrieved 300 bags of body parts, 64 small bags of airplane debris, and 54 large aircraft parts. A memorial near the crash site is planned for the victims’ families on Friday.

This week saw Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo preside over a compensation ceremony involving Sriwijaya Air and state-owned insurance company Jasa Raharja. In line with Indonesian law, relatives of the victims received an insurance payout from the airline and government of $89,100 and $3,560, respectively.

Search and rescue teams will continue the hunt for the CVR of the Boeing 737-500 from a newly established command post near the crash site on Lancang Island. Indonesian divers retrieved the flight data recorder (FDR) from the seabed on January 12 and officials have since downloaded the data, retrieving a total of 370 parameters from 27 hours of flight recordings covering 18 flights. Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said it plans to release its preliminary investigation report of the crash next month.

An international team dispatched to examine the plane’s recovered data and wreckage included four representatives from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, four employees from Boeing, two officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, and an aircraft engineer from GE Aviation. Two investigators from Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau are also helping with the probe in accordance with a cooperation agreement among member states that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The January 9 crash marks the fifth aircraft accident and the fifth hull loss for Sriwijaya Air. In 2008, a Boeing 737-200 overran the runway at Sultan Thaha Airport in Jambi and crashed into a house, leaving one person dead. The airline suffered three additional runway excursions in 2011, 2012, and 2017 but with no fatalities.